SONS OF APOLLO - Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony (Live Album)
Supergroup SONS OF APOLLO follow up their debut album with a phenomenal live album recorded in concert in Bulgaria complete with a choir and orchestra, also available on DVD and Blu-Ray. I'm often a little reticent about live albums but was excited to get my ears wrapped around this after seeing them live and desperate to relive every second.
As the recording opens with 'God of The Sun' you can hear the crowd's anticipation as the music starts its build-up. The drums, when they kick in, are immense and you can feel the bass in your gut, it's so powerful - as is usually the case with Billy Sheehan. Massive vocals from Jeff Scott Soto never disappoint and are excellent live, and the eastern twang of this track is awesome - a very different, strong and heavy sound. Audience interaction mid-way through is wasted on a CD but makes you want to be there in the audience and adds to the ambience.
There is a ferocity and energy in the performance which can only be captured in the live show as they belt through the setlist, Bumblefoot's fingers aflame in 'Sign of the Time' and 'Divine Addiction'. Each musician gets a solo spot to display their talent and these are captivating and exciting, not a break in the suspense but adding to the overall show.
The whole album is a huge wall of sound, each instrument in sync and more exciting, more engaging, more beautiful as one, and generally just "greater" than all of the separate parts. Mike Portnoy’s thunderous drums are matched in depth by Sheehan’s deep, grumbling basslines, Derek Sherinian’s key’s drive choruses, Bumblefoot's licks are mesmerising as he wrings every ounce of life out of his guitar while telling the audience "I love how you scream!" Just wow...!
Soto demonstrates the power and range of his voice throughout and his dip into Freddie Mercury territory is bewitching as he belts out a compelling and incredibly melodic 'Save Me'. 'The Show Must Go On' has truly authentic vocals and is simply stunning, the whole band giving their all.
Halfway in at track 12 'Kashmir' and I'm still in it, still engaged and enthralled, as are the crowd which is quite evident. Faultless vocals and the haunting melody are as relentless as the tide, making this a real stand out track for me, and the sound quality is just incredible. In 'Gates of Babylon' you can feel the excitement of the audience from the first bars as drums pummel you into happy submission, keys in perfect synchronicity; this is a living, moving beast of a performance!
Covers include a great rendition of 'Dream On' by Aerosmith (as told by a lifelong Steven Tyler fan), Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' where Bumblefoot shines, his playing a thing of real beauty which gets me right in the feels, and Van Halen's 'And The Cradle Will Rock'.
Soto is an outstanding frontman, engaging with each musician and the crowd while delivering vocals most can only aspire to. The quality of the band is evidenced by the depth of the performance and how much it feels like the recorded product but with fresh life breathed into it. The addition of choir and orchestra makes it almost a religious experience and not be missed.
By the final and closing track, 'Coming Home', they still sound amazing, their performance still tight A.F. As the final track soars, the audience are ignited yet again and the track takes flight to an outstanding climax to a spectacular show. I wish I was there but I feel like in some ways I was, such is the quality of this release. Thank you for sharing this experience.
This is an essential addition to your SOA collection, whether you're a fan or have never heard a bar. It gives great insight to their live show and, if you've been lucky enough to experience this already, helps you relive the excitement, either way, you become better acquainted with the magnificent calibre of these musicians.
10 out of 10 every time. I need the DVD
Sons Of Apollo are:
Jeff Scott Soto - Vocals
Mike Portnoy - Drums
Derek Sherinian- Keyboards
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal - Guitars
Billy Sheehan - Bass